It can carry up to 2.5kg of payload, enough to carry a family-sized pizza, and can travel within a 10km radius.

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Published: Sunday, October 22, 2023, 6:00 am

It is projected that autonomous drones will be used for the last mile delivery system in Dubai next year to make it faster and more convenient for consumers.

Visitors to the recent Gitex Global 2023 got a glimpse of how this can happen. They placed orders for food and drinks and they were delivered in less than four minutes at the kiosk that served as the disembarkation port.

The pilot project was demonstrated by Dubai-based FEDS Drone-powered Solutions (FEDS) and Chinese company Meituan UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems).

Faster alternative

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Rabih Bou Rached, Founder and CEO of FEDS, said, “Drone delivery is a better alternative to human delivery as it is faster because there is no air traffic and the order will arrive faster.” .

According to Rached, full-scale, city-wide operation is expected to occur in the next two years, but a pilot testing area in a low-rise residential community will be operational next year.

Rabih Bou Rached, founder and CEO of FEDS.

Rached noted that the drone delivery system is already used in three major cities in China in the past two years. The Gitex Global installation was based on the services of Meituan UAS in China. A pick-up kiosk (landing port) was set up in the parking area of ​​the Dubai Word Trade Center and the drone operated on a predetermined route from a launch pad to a kiosk, making it safe and easy to navigate.

Initially, Rached said, between 10 and 20 drones will be deployed for the trial period, but hundreds of drones could soon be used for operations across Dubai.

Drone specifications

The drone has six rotors. Its size is 1370 x 1370 x 450 mm. It can carry up to 2.5kg of payload, enough to carry a family-sized pizza. Its communication system works with 5G or 4G and WiFi and can travel within a 10 km radius.

Its ascent speed is up to 10 meters per second and it can descend up to 6 meters/second. Its maximum obstacle perception distance is 50 meters forward and 15 meters upward.

The drone can operate in moderate rain and temperatures between -20 degrees Celsius and 60 degrees Celsius.

The drone works in conjunction with a landing port that can be flexibly deployed in various locations, such as events such as Gitex Global or offices, residential and commercial areas.

According to Rached, the first step is to obtain a certification of BVLOS (beyond line of sight) for drone operation at distances outside the normal visible range of the (human) pilot.

He noted that Meituan UAS began working on drone delivery solutions in 2017, with the goal of providing services within 15 minutes to users within a three-kilometer radius. “The company is now a leading provider of drone delivery services and has been operating in three cities in China since 2021, with more than 184,000 successful deliveries of food, drinks and other daily necessities to customers as of August 2023,” he added. .

Dubai is ready

Meanwhile, Dubai Municipality (DM) has confirmed on Gitex Global that it is actively working to map the city’s airspace to plan routes and landing sites for drones. He has already completed the exercise at Dubai Silicon Oasis and now plans to do the same across the city.

Wesam Lootah, managing director of DM’s corporate support services sector, said: “We are doing 3D zoning of the airspace and building airways. This will help accelerate the adoption of drones in many aspects.”